Health

6 Natural Insomnia Cures That Nix Summer Sleep Sappers

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Summer’s hot, sticky nights can make it hard to get the rejuvenating rest you deserve. To the rescue: quick insomnia cures for common sleep sappers.

Outsmart night sweats with a sunset stroll.

If menopausal hot flashes disrupt your sleep, go for a relaxing stroll before bed. Swedish researchers say just 20 minutes of exercise between dinner and bedtime, like walking around the block as you watch the sunset, cuts your risk of sleep-disrupting hot flashes by 67 percent. Evening movement churns out brain chemicals (serotonin and norepinephrine) that help your body maintain its core temperature and ward off night sweats.

Too hot? Cool down with an ice-pack pillow.

No need to crank up the A/C (and your electric bill!) to get a good night’s rest on sweltering days. Just pop a gel ice pack into a zip-top bag and tuck it inside your pillowcase before going to bed. Warm temperatures make it difficult to doze off, but lying on a cool pillow chills pulse points in the back of your head and neck. That’s something University of Pittsburgh scientists say can help you fall asleep within 13 minutes and stay asleep for 89 percent of the night.

Or chill your feet! Hot nights can triple your risk of restlessness, but one of the best insomnia cures for this is placing two frozen water bottles under your sheets by your feet at bedtime. The blood vessels in feet are especially sensitive to temperature changes, and chilling them sends a cooling sensation throughout your entire body.

Sunburn? Smooth on coconut oil.

Soaked up a few too many rays? During the summer, at least one in three folks wind up with tender, red skin that can leave you tossing and turning at night. Thankfully, there’s an easy fix: Smooth a dollop of coconut oil onto sunburned areas before bed. As the healthy fats soak into damaged skin tissue, they dampen painful inflammation, prevent the moisture loss that leads to itchy dryness and speed the formation of healthy new skin cells. Not only will you sleep soundly tonight, but researchers reporting in the International Journal of Dermatology reveal this simple trick can shave three days off your recovery too.

And sip pomegranate juice! Unwinding with a 4-oz. glass of pomegranate juice daily cuts your healing time in half, according to UCLA investigators. That’s because the refreshing sip is brimming with ellagic acid, an anti-inflammatory that puts the brakes on pain and noticeably speeds sunburn recovery.

Aches and pains? Dip into guacamole.

Fun-filled days can leave you achy come bedtime, tripling your risk of restless sleep. On especially active days, or whenever you feel a twinge of soreness, snack on guacamole and chips or top your burger with sliced avocado. University of Connecticut investigators say savoring an avocado a day eases even chronic pain flare-ups by 59 percent. Credit goes to the fruit’s oleic acid, a unique compound that blocks your body’s production of pain-triggering hormones.

Or rub your scalp! Firmly massage your scalp in small, circular motions for 5 minutes. University of Alabama scientists say stimulating nerve endings releases painkilling endorphins, easing aches by 50 percent and helping you fall asleep 30 minutes faster.

Gotta go in the night? Raid your medicine cabinet.

All those glasses of iced tea and slices of watermelon are great for rehydrating, but they can cause middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom. Almost 50 percent of us regularly miss out on much-needed shut-eye because of that “gotta go” urge. To sleep deeply, take 2 tsp. of milk of magnesia before hitting the hay. Canadian scientists say this medicine-cabinet staple is one of the best insomnia cures because it relaxes muscles in your bladder so they’re less likely to spasm as your bladder fills, significantly reducing overnight bathroom treks.

And kick back! Harvard scientists say fluid that pools in your legs during the day shifts toward your kidneys overnight, triggering the urge to go. But propping your feet up a few hours before bed pulls fluid out of your legs so you can totally empty your bladder.

Busy day? Imagine wishing on a dandelion.

Sticking to a regular bedtime makes it easier to doze off, but summer fun can keep you up late. To outsmart insomnia, picture gently blowing on a puffy dandelion as you make a wish. Australian scientists say imagining something soft and tactile (like a feather or a puppy) helps the brain release sleep-inducing theta waves, which lull you to sleep faster, deepen your sleep and improve sleep quality by up to 61 percent.

Or sniff citrus! Add a few drops of bergamot essential oil, which spurs relaxing theta waves, to unscented lotion, massage into your skin, and Canadian scientists say you’ll doze off 63 percent faster.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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